How blockchain could have saved the Alexandria library

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The study of history and the elderly is immensely important in order to preserve the knowledge that has been passed down through generations.

Unfortunately, the importance of knowledge is particularly acute when it is lost. With tragedies like the fire in the Alexandria library or the pillage of the House of Wisdom in ancient Baghdad or the recent loss of artifacts in the Iraq Museum, perspectives were lost, advances in philosophy and literature were forgotten, and languages ​​and translations disappeared from the earth.

How can we protect the artifacts of our heritage from disaster if we want to preserve our history?

Using blockchain technology to record the data stored in a decentralized cloud service could be just what the historical and archival industries need to protect our collective human history from destruction, looting and erroneous recording.

Blockchain as a data guardian

The archive industry is underfunded in many areas and does not have the means to properly maintain the stored data. As noted in this 2014 statement asking for more funding for the United States Archives, it is clear that funding shortages on many fronts could result in the loss of physical and digital records.

An alternative solution is to store data directly on the blockchain. David Vorick, CEO of Skynet and co-founder of Sia, told Cointelegraph, “A big advantage of using a blockchain is that you can build on an open marketplace that ensures fair prices for everyone.” This prevents third parties from participating in the Funding, while ensuring that community members passionate about protecting their heritage can fund a storage system directly.

Vorick continued, “If you are dependent on external infrastructure, you have given your infrastructure provider the opportunity to completely disrupt your business – something they will be happy to use to their advantage.”

Concerns about the legitimacy, security and privacy of stored information often arise. Many documents and records are kept for the people of the community and therefore must be safe and secure in the interest of their heritage. The nature of blockchain-based data repositories protects information not by storing it in centralized databases, as some of the leading organizations do, making them more vulnerable to data breaches, but by “splitting files into pieces and sending them to different servers or nodes.” “. which reduces the possibility of external control over user data. “

Another important aspect of archival storage on the blockchain is the immutability of the document itself. “But online archives are also susceptible to the removal of documents in ways that cannot be discovered,” noted the Social Science Research Council. It was also noted that in 2001 authors were given the rights to an online archive of their own works, but other parties could delete the authors’ works without revealing the information or with an indication of why an article was deleted. Articles and publications have been lost because some articles were not considered salvable.

Blockchain archives could store data across nodes around the world to ensure that it is an integral part of the blockchain and therefore in history.

This conveniently leads to the next part of the benefits of blockchain technology: giving credit where credit is due by creating an immutable proof of ownership. By using a blockchain, there will be no doubt about who owns what – such as a digital passport for documents and records.

Blockchain enthusiasts often declare that “immutability provides integrity” and protects who owns the document and who has and had access to it. For example, non-fungible tokens or NFTs are causing the art industry to re-examine property rights “and allow artists to protect their creations from forgery and duplication in the digital realm”. By using the same idea in archiving and data collection, there will always be a way to ensure that the records are not tampered with and that the original owner and format are proven.

Related: How does blockchain work? Everything worth knowing

How to help

In hindsight, we can look back at history to see what went wrong and what could have helped.

While this could be done to prevent other similar problems from occurring, or simply out of curiosity, this practice could save our dying languages ​​and keep people’s memories alive for generations to come.

Imagine if all the records that were lost in the great fire of the Alexandria library – or those that were lost in the destruction of their temple, the Serapeum, 500 years later – were kept on a blockchain. What information would we study and learn that would have changed modern society forever?

During the sack of the House of Wisdom in ancient Baghdad, which contained some of the best translations in the world, philosophical and religious texts were destroyed and thrown into the Tigris, causing it to “flow black for six months because of the ink of thousands”. of books drowned to their metaphorical death. ”The loss of these precious records has done immeasurable damage to our understanding of humanity, which historically has often been viewed as a way to weaken the legacy and rewrite narratives. Therefore, according to the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization’s “Lost Memories – Libraries and Archives Destroyed in the Twentieth Century”, “measures must be taken to preserve our written heritage”.

Using immutable blockchain technology to secure records could have been immensely useful during the 2018 fire that burned the National Museum of Brazil and destroyed priceless records of our history and works of art. Dalton de Souza Amorim, professor at the University of São Paulo, noted that “the worst loss was the anthropological collections,” which were indigenous language records that have now disappeared forever.

While blockchain technology cannot protect physical objects from accidental or deliberate damage, the data of those objects and researchers that are recorded can be protected, much like recordings of people speaking now-forgotten languages.

The American anthropologist Clifford Geertz stated in his essay “Religion as a Cultural System” that culture “is a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited ideas expressed in symbolic forms with which People communicate, perpetuate and develop knowledge about and their attitude towards life, ”and therefore the protection of voice recordings is necessary for the protection of people’s cultures.

Taking ownership of a blockchain would defuse the ongoing debate about who owns what, regardless of who found it and who owns it now. This is particularly true when one thinks of the recent successes of Iraq and Egypt in reclaiming 11,500 artifacts after a battle to prove possession and “to coordinate the return of about 5,000 ancient fragments of papyrus and 6,500 ancient clay objects because it belongs to the artifacts reliable origin or possession is missing ”. Stories. ”By using a blockchain, countries and communities no longer need to claim ownership of documents or records as all correct information is recorded and protected from tampering.

Now that we are armed with blockchain technology, we can position ourselves to protect our knowledge and history and pass it on to future generations without fear that records, materials and data may be lost forever. When we know how important blockchain technology is to storing and retrieving information, just imagine how many Alexandria libraries could be saved in the future.